Minimum Wage Rate Increased

On May 23, 2007, Congress passed a bill increasing the minimum wage to $7.25 over the next two years. The raise in the minimum wage was part of a $120 billion war-spending bill, which dealt mostly with funding the Iraq war and was signed by President Bush on May 25. This is the first raise in the federal minimum wage since 1997 when the minimum wage reached its current rate of $5.15/hour. State and local governments can require that higher wages be paid to employees within their boundaries. The federal law covers almost all employees. This increase will affect wage earners who currently make less than $7.25 per hour. The first wage increase to $5.85 per hour will take effect in this summer. In the summer of 2008 the minimum wage will increase to $6.55 per hour. The new rate of $7.25 per hour will not be required until summer of 2009.

Koch Foods Agrees to Pay Unpaid Overtime Wages to Poultry Workers

A poultry plant in Mississippi agreed to pay 174 workers $326,971 after an investigation by the DOL. Koch Foods, the company that owns and operates the plant, did not pay its employees the required overtime premium (time and a half) for all hours worked over 40 in a workweek. The company also neglected to pay some employees drive time for transporting crews to work sites in violation of federal law. Lawsuits and Department of Labor enforcement actions aimed at illegal pay practices in the meat and poultry processing industries are quite common. Typically, these claims relate to the failure to pay for all hours worked by the employees.